20th Annual Rainbows Festival is Held in Phoenix

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The 20th Annual Rainbows Festival will be held April 1-2, 2023, at the Heritage Square Historic District in Downtown Phoenix.

With the Arizona Legislature looking at a number of proposed measures aimed at curbing, or ending, drag performances in Arizona, this year’s Rainbows Festival will be especially meaningful. Organizers hope this will be an opportunity to show the strength of the local LGBTQ+ and allied community, and also to demonstrate that drag performance and culture are appropriate, family-friendly forms of expression.

Today, we welcome Jeremy Helfgot of J.M. Helfgot Communications to Arizona Horizon to discuss more about the event.

How did this festival get started?

“This festival was originally organized by a private group. Phoenix Pride came in and took it over, and the 2012 production of the festival has been homing it ever since. Like all things in the Pride movement, this finds it roots back in the early days of what was then called the Gay Rights Movement. It’s really about showing the community at large that the LGBTQ+ community is here, is part of society, is an open and welcoming and inclusive community. It’s just us,” said Helfgot.

What is going on with drag performances and the Legislature?

“We’ve been saying that this year’s Rainbow Festival as much as ever is more than an event, it is a statement. We have seen the transgender community, the drag culture, under severe attack in public policy. The question really is why?,” said Helfgot.

He further explains that lawmakers possibly fall under two categories: either they have been exposed to drag culture in some degree or never have had firsthand experience. “Question is if it’s the former, why now if it’s been okay until now, and if it’s the latter, why are you legislating something that you are not at all familiar with?” said Helfgot.

Did you see this coming from Arizona lawmakers?

“There were hints already last year that this was going to be an issue in this legislature, and the other question about this is now the Governor Hobbs has made clear that she will veto any of these bills. Why? Unless the agenda is one of simple hate and marginalization,” said Helfgot.

Jeremy Helfgot

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